Welcome to the Abbey Garden

Abbey Garden

Enter a world of fragrances and colours

KThe abbey garden adjacent to the historic red walls of Esrum Abbey is a fragrant pantry – for both humans and animals. The honey bee knows it. After buzzing around in the flower garden, it finally finds the pink valerian and settles down to find nourishment in the flowers. It also knows that, as the seasons change, so does the abbey garden. In autumn and winter, the garden is tranquil, but, come spring and summer, it hums with life again.

The abbey gardens in the Middle Ages

We do not know for sure what the Esrum Abbey gardens looked like when the monks were living here. But gardens were important to the Cistercians: the monks’ desire to live a secluded life, away from the outside world, meant that they had to be self-sufficient. So, they cultivated many types of vegetables, fruits and herbs to cater for the different requirements of abbey life. The medieval abbey gardens were scattered throughout the area and had several different functions. There were apothecary gardens with medicinal plants, vegetable gardens and orchards for the abbey kitchen, hop gardens for brewing beer and the cloister garden – an outdoor space for reading and contemplation.

Wilderness or orderly gardens?

When Cistercians are building a new abbey, it is important for the site to be uninhabited and natural. They regard the wilderness as the devil’s territory. When the monks in Esrum started constructing the abbey, they sought to create a place dedicated to God – an earthly paradise. Paradise was the result of the monks’ hard work, taming the wilderness, landscaping structured gardens, agriculture and prayer. Esrum and North Zealand may not seem like the wildest place. But for the Cistercian monks who travelled here from France and were used to the hilly landscape of Burgundy with mild winters and sunny summers, the cold North Zealand landscape probably seemed pretty wild.

A colourful sea of plants

Colors, scents, tranquility and contemplation